All About Migraines

Migraine headaches

There are many different types of migraines which all affect people in different ways. 

The most common factor is that they can be debilitating and have a significant impact on people’s lives. We look after patients with lots of types of these headaches and they have seen positive changes under our care. 

Many of the symptoms may overlap and people may have a range of symptoms from different categories making this a difficult headache to diagnose. Symptoms from other conditions can also be closely related making this confusing. Seeking professional help rather than self diagnosis over the internet is always important. 

This blog gives some details about the features of the different types of migraine and how it affects individuals. For more information on how upper cervical chiropractic can help many ailments, click here to access our blog

Common Types of Migraine

Migraine with Aura

Migraine with aura affects 1 in 3 people. The warning sign is most commonly a symptom that affects your sight.

The common symptoms related to your sight include:

  • blind spots
  • seeing coloured spots or lines
  • seeing flashing or flickering lights
  • seeing zig zag patterns
  • temporary blindness 

Although auras most often affect sight, your speech can also be involved. Some people may also feel disoriented or confused, or can faint, although this is rare. Auras can either happen on their own or together with a headache. The auras usually happen before a headache, which can be severe or mild. In some people the headache may not happen. Auras usually start happening gradually over about five minutes and can last for up to an hour. 

Researchers have linked the aura aspect to changes in the chemicals, nerves and blood flow in the brain that affect how it works and could be related to pain.

Migraine Without Aura

Migraine without aura is also known as a ‘common migraine’. If you have this type, you won’t get a warning sign that an attack is about to start.

Attacks of migraine without aura usually last between four hours and three days. The frequency of these attacks varies. They could happen every few years or as much as several times a week. 

Symptoms usually include:

  • A throbbing headache that is usually on one side of your head, which may worsen when you move. It can be so severe that it means you can’t do your normal daily activities
  • Feeling sick or being sick 
  • Being sensitive to light and/or sound

Chronic Migraine

2 in every 100 people suffer with this. A chronic migraine is defined as having headache for at least 15 days per month, with eight of these having specific  symptoms, for at least three months. 

Symptoms of chronic migraines are the same as the types of migraine listed above but the frequency is greatly increased. This increase in frequency usually happens over time. The pattern  varies depending on the individual. For some, it reduces in frequency and returns to episodic and for others it may worsen. 

Migraines can be made worse by other factors such as depression, anxiety, pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, other conditions such as sleep apnoea or postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS).

Rare Types of Migraine

Migraine with Brainstem Aura

This is a rare type of migraine with aura which occurs in 1 in 10 people who get migraine with typical aura. 

It occurs with neurological symptoms that would include at least two of the following: 

  • slurring of speech 
  • a sensation of movement 
  • ringing in the ears 
  • double vision 
  • unsteadiness when walking as if drunk 
  • temporary decreased consciousness 
  • pins and needles and/or numbness affecting both arms and/or legs
  • changes in eyesight in both eyes such as patterns or flashing lights

Migraine with brainstem aura symptoms often develop gradually and occur with or before a typical migraine headache. The additional neurological symptoms can make this type of migraine even more debilitating and can be distressing for the sufferer. 

Researchers have linked migraine with brainstem aura to changes in the chemicals, nerves and blood flow in the brain that affect how it works.

Vestibular Migraine

Vestibular migraine is a type of migraine where people experience a combination of vertigo, dizziness or balance problems alongside other migraine symptoms.

Vestibular migraine is usually associated with a range of typical symptoms alongside headache including:

  • feeling sick and/or being sick 
  • sensitivity to light 
  • sensitivity to sound 
  • sensitivity to movement 

There are additional symptoms present in this type of migraine, including:

  • a sensation of movement, this may occur without a headache
  • sensitivity to smells
  • light causing pain not just sensitivity
  • sensitivity to touch on the head or face

As upper cervical chiropractors we see patients with other vestibular issues which present with similar symptoms to vestibular migraines, and we see positive changes under care. For more information check out our blogs on meniere’s disease and other vestibular conditions. 

Hemiplegic Migraine

Hemiplegic migraines are a rare type of migraine involving temporary weakness on one side of the body as part of their migraine attack. The weakness may be in addition to some of the symptoms present in the more common migraine conditions. For more information on these symptoms read our blog “3 Common Types of Migraine”. 

People may also experience:

  • dizziness or vertigo (a sensation of movement)
  • hearing problems or ringing in the ears
  • confusion

This can be a frightening experience as the symptoms are similar to those of a stroke. The weakness may last from one hour to several days, but usually goes within 24 hours. A headache may follow the weakness, though it may occur before it or not at all.

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